Billy Graham Center

Witness... newsletter, January 2001

Table of Contents

"That Rivers of the Water of Life Might Flow": The Papers of Donald and Mary McGavran

Our Savior God, we gather this morning in the year of grace 1979 - nineteen hundred and fifty years, dear Lord, since You in human form walked this common earth, nineteen hundred and fifty years. And yet there are incomprehensible multitudes who have not heard Your blessed name and even more who have yet to believe on the Lord Jesus. In this class, Lord, we have considered various topics that bear closely on the spread of the glorious Gospel and the extension of the liberating church and the multiplication of souls of the redeemed. We look out on so many congregations and denominations which have plateaued and are stagnant in so many lands. Breathe on them, Lord, and on us, that a mighty surge of power may flow through Your household and that communication of the Good News become the normal activity of Your people everywhere. Keep our studies, Good Lord, focused most closely on carrying out the Great Commission. This is the task to which You have called us, that rivers of the water of life might flow freely throughout the parched and thirsty land. Deliver us from all easy irresponsibility, all mouthing of platitudes regardless of the actual extent of the spread of the churches. May we every hunger and thirst after effectiveness in our missionary activity. May we constantly reach out to become better servants of You, who came to seek and save the lost, more closely identified with You, who gave Your life a ransom for many, more ready to give our accounts, Lord, to You, when it pleases You to call us home. Grant that this course of study may result in a faster and further spread of the household of faith and the multiplication of sound Christian churches in every land on earth, that Your will may be done on earth, as it is in heaven. This we pray through the merit of our Lord. Amen. (Click .to hear the audio recording of this prayer.)

This was the prayer with which Donald McGavran opened his class on church growth at Fuller Seminary on February 9, 1979. Its themes of the redemption available through Jesus Christ and a united church built of diverse cultures had been important threads through the decades long ministry of Donald McGavran. These prayers and their heartfelt and intricate expression of the place of heart, mind, and spirit in the church and Christian life are online and can be found at Their own story and the momentous changes they saw and helped to bring about in twentieth century evangelism and mission are documented in the voluminous sixty boxes of documents, tapes, and photos which have been added to the McGavran papers (Collection 178) and which are now available to researchers.

The McGavrans went to India as missionaries of the Disciples of Christ in 1922. For the next three decades they preached, taught, wrote, learned and served. During these years Donald began to speculate about the reasons why Christian communities grew or declined. When he and Mary returned to the United States in 1954, he began another three decades plus (most of which was spent at Fuller Theological Seminary, of which he was the founding dean) of teaching, writing and debating what became known as church growth theory. Donald's ideas on how the Gospel should be presented and how strong churches should be nurtured had a great and continuing influence on the world wide church he served.

The expanded McGavran collection fully documents the many elements of the McGavrans' life together. It includes files of documents on Mary's active involvement in church work as a teenager and young woman, Donald's military service in Europe during World War I, their courtship and marriage (described in several folders of letters they exchanged), the family they raised on the mission field, their activities in India in evangelism, teaching, administration, and medicine. The collection is especially rich in Donald's lectures, articles, and notes and other materials relating to church growth theory, especially but not limited to the period from about 1940 to 1965. (Fuller Seminary has generously given the BGC Archives several more boxes of post 1965 McGavran files relating to his time at the Seminary and these will be processed and added to the collection soon.) The Archives is proud to be able to preserve and make available this rich and important collection that tells the story of how the service and experience of one couple was translated into ideas that still shape the church today.

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New Research Service Offered

Starting January 1, 2001, the BGC Archives will be offering patrons the option of having the Archives staff do research on their behalf for a fee.

In the past, it has sometimes been frustrating for people who want to search the Archives for film clips for a documentary or illustrations for a book or information about an individual or ministry but who are unable to come to Wheaton to do their research. Occasionally the staff has been able to put these people in touch with local individuals who would do research for them for a fee, but usually that was not possible. So people who could not come to Wheaton or find what they needed at the Web page or borrow it through interlibrary loan could not benefit from the Archives collections.

Now they will have another option. With every reference request that comes in, the Archives staff, as they have done in the past, will spend up to half an hour finding the information or documents requested. If after half an hour, the patron needs additional research to be done in the BGC Archives holdings, he or she can then arrange for the staff to do it. For $25 dollars per half hour, the staff will do the research requested. If copies of physical documents, such as photos or video, are desired, the staff will send the patron a listing of materials that fit his or her requirements to chose from and information on how to have these particular items copied. A full description of the new research service can be found on the web at this address: research.htm

Please note, organizations and individuals that have donated materials to the Archives will continue to receive from the staff free research services to the material they gave. Thus, if the ABC Mission gave its records to the Archives and ten years later needs to have photos of their education work, the Archives will find the images they need for them without any charge for research costs.

Besides providing means for using the Archives to people who cannot come to Wheaton, the Archives staff hopes that this service will generate additional income for the Archives that will help support some of its other services and make the BGC Archives collection available to as wide an audience as possible.

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The Torrey Diaries

Though I am now sixty-three years old, I never was stronger in my life or able to do more hard work. I usually get to bed about midnight or after, and get up at about six or a little before, in the morning. Sometimes I get a little rest in the afternoon, but I do not seem to need more than six hours rest. I am practically never tired. I do take one day a week however, for absolute rest, that is to say rest from my ordinary work. I sleep out doors practically every night, in a tent.

The Reuben Archer Torrey Sr. Collection (
CN 107) has just been expanded to include the diaries of Torrey and his wife, Clara, which give a unique insight into his life and ministry of fifty years. Torrey's early, middle and last years of life are covered in his diaries while those of his wife record events mostly from 1902 to 1908 while Torrey was on many of his evangelistic trips. Other materials added include correspondence, glass negatives, photographs, and audio tapes one of which contains a sermon by Torrey titled, A Reason Why I Believe The Bible to be The Word of God. The above quote is from a letter he wrote in 1919 to a friend. Torrey (1856-1928) was an author, evangelists, pastor, teacher, and superintendent of Moody Bible Institute and dean of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (BIOLA).

This excerpt from Torrey's diary (the actual diary page is shown in the photo above) in folder 3-2 dated Sunday, Feb. 24, 1907 illustrates Torrey's passion for evangelism, which is documented through the materials. Blessed day. Rushed over to Mt. Hermon [Northfield, MA] & spoke at 10:30 am on "What it costs not to be a Ch'an [Christian]." A young fellow accepted Christ & many stood up for absolute surrender. 4:30 pm I spoke at the Northfield Seminary on "Heroes & Cowards." There was 15 or more decisions. 7:30 pm meeting at the church...I spoke on "What shall I do with Jesus." God gave me great liberty. There were 18 or more decisions. God is answering prayer.

The materials in this collection are available to researchers in the Archives Reading Room. The guide to the collection may be viewed on the Archives Web page at

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Many Voices - One Story: Documents in a Variety of Formats

The Archives continues to explore the use of technology to preserve and make available its collections. In the early 1980s the Archives began its migration from subject access through library index cards to its current online searchable database (at During the past several years, the staff have achieved the goal of having all collection guides available on its Web site. Another aspect of this evolution, our most recent, is digitizing documents to make them readable and searchable on CDs.

Earlier this year, the staff was approached about a microfilming project by a Japanese organization which is descended from the Woman's Union Missionary Society (WUMS) work in Japan. They wanted access to the WUMS annual reports in Collection 379 and suggested microfilming the reports. In addition to offering to pay for the project, they asked whether the images could also be scanned to CD for reading on computer or searching capability. These ideas were brought together and the project is now completed, with both the Archives and the client having microfilm copies and searchable CD copies of the indexed reports. As in other cases where the Archives has microfilmed records in its collection, patrons can borrow the microfilm through inter-library loan (see a full list of available collections at

There have been similar projects this year. The staff arranged for a lab to microfilm and then scan the contents of the records of the Pan African Christian Leadership Assembly (Collection 172), held in Nairobi in 1976. The microfilm and CD were then sent to African Enterprise, a Christian organization in South Africa which in turn was planning to have the materials available at a local university archives. Similarly, the papers of twentieth century missionary and martyr Jim Elliot (Collection 277) were also filmed and scanned. Although not indexed, both of these are accessible for viewing on computers as images using Windows software.

These projects are part of a larger effort to learn how to apply available technology to the advantage of our users. As the staff investigates some of the technological possibilities and plans to convert some of its heavily used collections into a digital format and even to gather records in digital format, a prime consideration is to increase the access options open to researchers, whether they come in person to the Archives or visit via the Internet. Data from centuries old documents can now be viewed via microfilm readers and computers as well as handling the document itself.

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Archives Photo Gallery

Wheaton College is the home of three different archives. Besides the BGC Archives, there is the College's Archives and Special Collections and the Marion E. Wade Center, which collects the papers of seven prominent British authors, including C. S. Lewis. Through the grace of God, working through a most generous donor, the staff of the Wade Center has received a gift to build a beautiful new building (scheduled to be finished in the late spring of 2001) to house their important collection. Here Chris Mitchell, director of the Wade Center, gives the BGC Archives staff a tour of the new building as it is under construction. They are standing in what will be the Great Hall, the showpiece and center of the building.

Every year, the Archives has at least Archival Treasure Hunt for local home schooled children, in which they come to the Archives and get a chance to learn about church history and work with original documents. One group of kids and parents visited on Halloween and here they are on their historical adventure.

As part of an orientation session, the staff set out on a table examples of some of the different types of formats of documents in the Archives. Among the types on the table were glass lantern slides, posters, correspondence, wire recordings, photographs, phonograph records, reels of audio tapes, maps, scrapbooks, newsletters, and maps

In September retired professor and filmmaker Daniel Dunkelberger gave to the Archives his own personal and valuable collection of documents and equipment about the early use of film by Evangelicals. Most of these materials dealt with the work of C. O. Baptista, a pioneer in the film. He not only made films but, because film projectors for non theatrical settings, such as churches, were hard to find, he made them as well, starting in 1942. At the right is the plaque which was put onto each of his projectors.

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Research in the Archives

Dr. Linda Benson, professor of history at Oakland University, Michigan, came to the Archives recently to research the lives of three British women, Mildred Cable and Francesca and Evangeline French, who served with the China Inland Mission (now Overseas Missionary Fellowship). They worked for some twenty years in Shanxi before embarking on an itinerant ministry to Muslims in northwestern China, in 1923. Her interest was in the women as individuals and also in the contribution their many published works have made to our understanding of the history of northwestern China. I came to the BGC [Billy Graham Center] to see whether I could discover more about their work and in particular about their interaction as women with the leadership of the CIM in China. My hope was to locate personal letters or other documents by American women friends of the three that could provide such insight, but, unfortunately, found very little of that. On the other hand, there was a great deal of information that helps give the context for the women's work in the Muslim areas of northwestern China. Some of this material is extremely helpful and I feel my time spent at the archives was thus of great value. I will be borrowing additional materials, in the form of microfilm, in the coming months.

The Archives was able to put Dr. Benson in contact with a former CIM missionary living in the area and they discussed events from over a half century ago, including his impression of the three women she was researching.

Another recent researcher was was Zacharia Samita (pictured at right), a doctoral student in the department of religious studies at Kenyata University in Nairobi, Kenya. Samita was doing research for his dissertation: Christian Crusades in Kenya and Their Role in the Church: The Case of Nairobi. He wanted to document the planning for a crusade, the messages preached, and the impact of the crusade on the church of Kenya (follow-up strategies, church growth), and to locate any photographs and video tapes. After his visit, he wrote, in an e-mail to the staff, From my reading, I learned that Billy Graham and Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) visited some countries of Africa in 1960, Kenya being one of them. They had crusades in Nairobi and Kisumu, apparently, the first ever large evangelistic crusades of such international repute. I browsed the Website [Archives Home Page] and found that the archives had information that would be pertinent to my dissertation. Samita stated that he was particularly interested in the, emphasis...of BGEA on the involvement of the indigenous African Christians in the planning, implementing the crusade, follow-up/continuity of the work. Kenyan churches and leaders, Africans and missionaries were involved. The crusade was attended by people of various ethnic communities, races, denominations and ages. At the height of the struggle of independence in Africa, the BGEA had crusades in Africa making clear that its agenda was missionary not political, however demonstrating that Christian principles did not support colonialism and apartheid (I thought this was very important). African Christians were challenged to "own" the missionary work/evangelization of their own people. I was overwhelmed by the readiness the archive staff had to give me the information, given that I had only 4 hours!

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Five Snapshots of the Same Event

Five oral history collections were recently opened and are now available for use by researchers, These five comprise a series that were conducted during Wheaton College's 1993 Homecoming Weekend with members of the class of 1943, a distinguished group the best known member of which is probably evangelist Billy Graham. The oral histories were a joint effort of the College Archives and the BGC Archives, with archivists of both departments conducting the interviews. The purpose of the interviews was to gather recollections of the school at that time and of Billy Graham as a student. However, several other common threads were mentioned like favorite faculty and the impact of World War II on the campus, but also one no longer part of Wheaton student life: literary societies.

Mary Margaret (Garfield) Johnson (Collection 485 at went on from Wheaton to a teaching career. An interesting sidelight in her comments is the instrument which drew her to Wheaton: My first knowledge of Wheaton (and you have to realize this is back in the 30s and Wheaton was not as well known...) was in a cartoon in the paper, and showed this lady sweeping all kinds of things out the door, and it was dancing and gambling and all that. But the...the legend on it was saying that the fastest growing college in a certain area of the country was this one which prohibited etcetera etcetera, all these things. And I was in high school at the time and I was looking for a smaller college and I wanted a Christian one, but at that point I didn't even know if such a thing existed. So that started our looking, and my mother and I came down and looked the campus over and that sort of thing to get a feel of it and as picture of it. And so the procedure went on from there, but it actually started with a cartoon in the paper [laughs].

She also remembered Billy Graham as a student: Bill was looking beyond college. When we were here, our next class, what we were doing this weekend, our college experience, was sort of the end all and be all. This was the sphere where we were operating. We knew we were going to graduate some day but the present was very with us and that was...our thinking was bounded by that...that particular time and experience. Billy always was looking beyond college. What he was doing here was for something there. He was already in the obvious process of preparing himself for some...we knew that in theory; he was doing it in practice.

Like the others, Helen Ruth (Supplee) Jongewaard (Collection 486 at talked about Billy Graham, Wheaton literary societies and memorable professors, but also commented on the 1943 revival and the effect of World War II on Wheaton. An account unique to Jongewaard's interview was her description of the first wedding performed by Billy Graham.

Kathryn Marie (Hess) Feldi (Collection 487 at discussed her missionary parents in Tanzania, her mother's conversion at a Billy Sunday campaign, memories of Billy Graham, the Wheaton revival of 1943, favorite professors, and the effect of World War II on Wheaton.

John MacDonald (Collection 489 at talked about the same themes as the others. He later came back to the Archives for a second interview to talk about his pastoral career in Southern California, observations about the development of the Jesus People movement and his participation in Jews for Jesus. Among his comments, however, in his first interview, were his recollections of December 7, 1941 on campus, the day Pearl Harbor was bombed. Well, it was Sunday afternoon, of course, when the news came through. I know where I was. I was in my room listening to the radio and heard the...the announcement and...and that...that was a terrible shock. Of course, the next day was a somber chapel service, and Dr. Edman [president of the college] was, I think, in tears himself. He had told us various times of his experiences in World War I. And...and he knew and we all knew that a lot of our young men particularly would lose their lives. And, of course, that's the way it turned out. So it changed things. Of course, the...the paramilitary groups who came onto campus and we had blood donations and things like that. It became a kind of war economy all the way around. Yeah, it was a sobering time.

The series is rounded out with the oral history with Joseph MacKnight (Collection 490 at, who went on to a medical career after completing his Wheaton and medical school educations. He like the others recalled his reasons for attending, literary societies, and friends and significant staff and faculty.

These five interviews are highlighted here to illustrate how collections offer researchers different perspectives of the same events, time period and people.

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Guides on the Web

Guides to all the collections mentioned in this newsletter can be found on the World Wide Web at the Archives' home page.

The address (or URL) for a list of collection guides in collection number order is:

The address for a list of collection guides in alphabetical order, according to the name of the creator of the documents, is:

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Editorial block

Volume 10, Number 1
January 2001

The Archives of the Billy Graham Center is a department of Wheaton College which collects and makes available documents on the part nondenominational Protestant efforts have played in the spread of the Christian Gospel.
Robert Shuster, Director
Paul A. Ericksen, Associate Director
Wayne D. Weber, Reference Archivist
Christian Sawyer, Archival Coordinator

For further information, contact the archives at: Archives of the Billy Graham Center
Wheaton College
Wheaton, IL 60187
or call (630) 752-5910

Home Page: http:/

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Last Revised: 1/1/2001
Expiration: indefinite

Wheaton College 2005